Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Monday, May 4, 2020

I gotta say, forced catheterizations is a bit too much...

I've discussed with friends the limits of search and seizure. One friend was very taken back by a county is Alabama that would take a blood sample (by force if needed) with a warrant. He considered it an invasion of a person and it can't be justified. I countered it was allowed by law, and can only be administrated by the order of a court, i.e. a search warrant. And I've had to use force on a couple of occasions.

Now, I saw this, and I must agree with the judge here.
Judge: Forced catheterizations by South Dakota law enforcement violated Constitution

South Dakota law enforcement’s practice of using forced catheterizations to obtain urine samples from suspects violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge has ruled.

In a sharp rebuke to the practice, Chief Judge Roberto Lange of the U.S. Federal Court for the District of South Dakota said that the process of involuntary catheterization is a violation of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable police searches and seizures. Lange declined to dismiss the case brought by six individuals who sued the cities of Pierre, Wagner and Sisseton, as well as various law enforcement officers who oversaw forced catheterizations.

Police used catheters to obtain urine samples to determine if suspects had ingested drugs – South Dakota has a law that makes ingestion of drugs illegal. But Lange said the practice was overkill for low-level drug crimes: Ingestion of marijuana is a misdemeanor while ingestion of methamphetamine is a class-5 felony.

“Defendants’ need to obtain the plaintiffs' urine to prove a low-level drug crime did not justify subjecting the plaintiffs to involuntary catheterization, a highly invasive—and in these cases—degrading medical procedure,” Lange wrote. In his 106-page opinion, Lange recounted the particulars of each catheterization, including videos taken by law enforcement that showed three of the plaintiffs screaming in agony.
Not sure if this applies, but when I assisted in taking a blood sample, men scream like they are giving birth through the penis. A syringe in the arm is not enough to cause that level of paint. Shall we say there is a lever of bad acting with the hope of a lawsuit later?

Now, if this part of the article is true, there are other issues to be discussed:
Two plaintiffs – Gena Alvarez and Aaron Peters – were subject to forced catheterizations even though they were not arrested for, or suspected of, drug crimes. Alvarez had been pulled over by the South Dakota Highway Patrol near Winner for drinking and driving, which Lange noted the officers already had evidence to support a drunken driving charge, and Peters had been arrested by Wagner police on a bench warrant for failing to pay a court fee.

Alvarez, who had a history of being sexually abused, woke up at the Winner Hospital being held down and her clothes removed. The Trooper who arrested her, Adam Woxland, had directed another male officer to hold down her legs while Woxland watched.

“There is no community interest in involuntarily catheterizing an emotionally distraught woman with a history of having been raped just to see if evidence exists to tack a drug ingestion charge onto an ironclad case of driving under the influence of alcohol,” Lange wrote.

My department allows strip searches, if there a reasonable belief the suspect has weapons/contraband. It's authorized by a supervisor, the search must take place in a private area, and must be conducted by same sex officers. If this an accurate report, this woman's lawsuit will be very justified, and the state will want to pay much now, as opposed to this being in a public courtroom.

Judge Lange, well done sir.

No comments:

Post a Comment